On Friday, cancer complications claimed the life of Karen Hobert Flynn, a reformer who helped secure the passage of the historic law that provides public funding for political campaigns in Connecticut.
Hobert Flynn, 60, split her time between Washington, DC, and Middletown, where she and her husband Rob Flynn raised four sons. For over three decades, she had led the charge for democracy reform as an activist and a leader.
Common Cause, where she had worked for over a quarter of a century, the last seven as national president, announced her death.
In 2005, Hobert Flynn presided over Common Cause Connecticut, an organization that played a key role in a coalition that also included Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell and the grassroots organization Connecticut Citizen Action Group, which leaned left.
“I had the pleasure of working with a lot of amazing people over the years, and I can’t think of anybody who was more committed or principled than Karen,” Tom Swan, the CCAG leader, said. One person said, “She was smart, she was intense, and she was fun.”
After former governor John G. Rowland resigned under pressure from an impeachment inquiry and a federal investigation into bid rigging, Rell took office in July 2004. After waiting a month, Rell unexpectedly invited Common Cause and CCAG to meet and discuss reforming campaign finance.
Proclamation on the Death of Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause
Karen, a trailblazer, and strong advocate has spent her entire professional life working to make the government more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Connecticut’s full public finance system, as well as numerous ethics laws and disclosure laws, were all won under her leadership of Common Cause in Connecticut.
She did not back down from her commitment to a representative democracy that delivered on its ideals for all its citizens. Karen has held the position of national president twice, both times providing dependable guidance in challenging circumstances. From the time President Bob Edgar died suddenly to her own passing, she lived through the turmoil of two presidential elections.
She led Common Cause with tenacity and grace through challenging times for our country and our organization, never wavering in her resolve to hold the White House accountable and never losing sight of the nonpartisan vision for a more inclusive and representative democracy.
Common Cause’s membership doubled and its footprint for democracy grew to 30 states while she was at the helm.
In her final year, she oversaw the largest national non-partisan election protection program in preparation for the 2022 midterms and led a national coalition fighting to protect and strengthen the right to vote for all. She initiated Common Cause’s 50-year-old effort to become a more equitable workplace and redoubled the organization’s dedication to ensuring a democratic society that includes everyone.
Governor Ned Lamont said, “Karen made a lasting impact on Connecticut politics as one of the architects of our nationally renowned public financing system.” This system has been used as a model for states across the country to create a more open and accessible government.
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